Photodynamic IPL

What is Photodynamic IPL?

Photodynamic IPL involves the application of a special lotion on the skin for one hour or more prior to a dual-filter IPL treatment. This lotion makes the IPL treatment more effective and can specifically target pre-cancerous sun spots and oil glands for effective treatment of sun-damage, actinic keratoses (pre-cancerous sun-spots), and rosacea.

The science

Photodynamic IPL uses a photosensitizing agent – amino levulinic acid (ALA) – to react with light to produce molecular oxygen which then destroys sun-damaged and pre-cancerous skin cells. When applied to the skin, ALA, through a metabolic pathway, accumulates specifically in rapidly dividing cells such as sun spots and skin cancers, as well as in hair follicles, sebaceous (oil) glands and acne lesions. When the area of skin is exposed to a light source of the appropriate wavelength, the photosensitiser (ALA) is activated to produce oxygen molecules that destroy the target cells. The end result of this treatment is clinical clearance of the targeted lesion and a cosmetic outcome superior to treatment without ALA.

What conditions can be treated with Photodynamic IPL?

Photodynamic IPL is ideal for sun-damaged skin, freckles, solar keratoses (pre-cancerous sun spots), and rosacea, as well as for general facial rejuvenation. An ideal candidate would be someone with fair skin and widespread age-spots and precancerous sun spots.

On the Day of Treatment

The skin is prepared by thoroughly cleansing to rid the surface of oils and dead skin cells. The ALA solution is applied topically to the area. This is left on the skin for approximately 60 mins. During this time patients must remain in a darkened environment. The skin to be treated may be covered with an occlusive and opaque dressing. Immediately before the treatment the ALA solution is removed. IPL therapy is then performed while chilled air is blown over the treated area to aid in patient comfort.


A mild stinging or burning sensation, similar to a sunburn is quite normal. No sun exposure directly to the treated area should occur for 3 days following treatment. A hat and SPF 30+ must be used at all times (2-3 times daily). Avoid exposure to excessively bright lighting. The skin will appear reddened post-procedure and there will be a variable amount of swelling which may last from 24 hours to 4 days. Skin irregularities such as pigmented lesions will darken before fading away over a few days. There may be some mild to moderate peeling.

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